Progress report, Twain, Fellini

Today I edited up to chapter 8, so a good day there. It was a part with fewer problems, though, and I've got a chapter coming up that the beta reader really did not like.

The thing that's nice about good readers is that they're very focused on the main storylines and the characters, so they notice right away when a character starts doing something off, or when all the characters magically forget about the many problems that were causing them so much consternation five minutes before.

It's easy for the writer to lose track of that kind of continuity (I'm guessing because it takes a lot longer to write something than to read it, and you don't always write page 1 first). For example, with this problem chapter coming up, a long time ago I read Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and there's a hilarious bit in there about wearing armor. I'd always remembered that bit, so I thought I'd write a similarly hilarious bit about Philippe Trang and his suit.

The problem is that there's an awful lot of really serious stuff going on, and then all of a sudden it's all "Ha-ha! His pants are falling off!" and the beta reader felt that was inappropriate. And you know something? The beta reader was right. 

Last night I also watched Federico Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits. I've always liked Fellini, and by "always" I mean since I was about 10 or 11, and my sister and I very randomly came across La Dolce Vita flipping around television channels one afternoon. We watched the entire rest of the movie, and I vividly remember it, as does my sister. We both really enjoyed it, and not just because it was obviously about "adult stuff" we weren't supposed to be watching.

The reason I enjoyed Fellini as a kid is no different than the reason I enjoyed it last night: Despite all the surreal aspects of his films, they are very straightforward. Fellini was someone who was very sure about what he wanted to say, and everything in the film--no matter how random-seeming--actually serves the larger purpose. You don't get the feeling that a bunch of crap was thrown in there to make it arty. His movies are deeply logical.

So, I guess my point is that it's worth it to pursue that kind of continuity. No matter what's going on, it needs to at least make emotional sense.